New DFO Report Finds Atlantic Mackerel Stocks Down 86 Percent Over Past 20 Years

Source: CBC News/Paul Withers

Photo: Edouard Dognin/Unsplash

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The latest stock assessment for Atlantic mackerel contains grim news for one of the region’s most iconic fish.

Scientists say the spawning population is down 86 per cent from pre-2000 levels, and the number of fish surviving to breed is at all-time lows.

An assessment by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans says mackerel are in the “critical zone” where serious harm is occurring and recovery is threatened by overfishing.

Adding to the uncertainty are changing environmental conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence where mackerel spawn.

The results may surprise recreational anglers who catch mackerel from wharves throughout Atlantic Canada, but DFO scientist Andrew Smith said those are small groups of fish schooling close to shore.

They do not represent an accurate picture of the overall stock, which has been declining for years, he said.

“We continue to have a very low biomass. We are in the critical zone. We have had two very low years of recruitments in Atlantic mackerel, the two lowest on record,” Smith said in an interview from DFO’s Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Mont-Joli, Que.

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Photo: Edouard Dognin/Unsplash

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